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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Getting Help: An Exploration Into #Men’s #MentalHealth

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#Mentalhealth has been a topic that has emerged to the forefront of public consciousness, but for men, there is still a stigma around seeking help for #mentalhealth.

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

There is a quote from an article in GQ magazine by Benjy Hansen-Bundy that encapsulates the particular problem linking masculinity and #mentalhealth: “Masculinity — a coarse and not particularly helpful term — doesn’t exactly lend itself to introspection, discussing feelings, or even feeling those feelings.”

Precisely the masculine behavior that #men are socialized to absorb is the problem. And I believe, beyond that, more accessible #mentalhealth counseling needs to be available. But I think that a more important factor to focus on is the cultural shift that is and needs to continue happening around #mentalhealth.

Ever since I was young, I can remember people telling me to do and feel, or to not feel, based on who I was. A part of this socialization is that #men refuse to ask for help or to receive help, which then, in turn, would make us weak.

Here lies the fundamental problem with masculinity and good #mentalhealth: in the world we live in, those two concepts are mutually exclusive. As a result of this socialization, men are on the receiving end of a host of destructive behaviors.

These behaviors, in turn, hurt others and create a sexist and unequal world for everyone. And these effects continue to ripple outward. So, as you can see, #mentalhealth and #men are two things that haven’t been able to coalesce.

But men need to take responsibility and initiative for getting better. Anger and pain because of not speaking up are destructive not only for men themselves, but especially for #women. Because of these toxic behaviors, ##men have the potential and often do hurt #women directly or indirectly. And as we know from our previous definition of toxic masculinity, suppressing emotions, believing violence is power, and acting tough are destructive and eroding behaviors.

This is in no way excusing what men do because of their socialization. #Men are often complicit and allow these behaviors to continue at the expense of others. But there needs to be a change. So I offer this, men: let’s get better. It’s not too late to put in the work and to change.

When I was younger, I embodied many of these toxic #male traits: I was moody and unavailable, and unwilling to let my emotions out. I thought it was cool to be unavailable. In reality, this is not the case. In an article in Psychology Today, Dr. Rob Whitley of McGill University discusses the effects of repressed emotions and poor #mentalhealth. #Men, for instance, make up 75% of #suicide victims in the #UnitedStates.

Whitley attributes this to a variety of variables, namely, perceived rejection from society. According to the article, “veterans, young American Indians[,] and gay men” have some of the highest rates of #suicide.

But what can be done? According to Hansen-Bundy, there have been a variety of prominent men speaking out about their struggles with #mentalhealth. Kid Cudi, Kevin Love, and Michael Phelps have all spoken openly about their struggles. I think that there needs to be more resources available and more accessible #mentalhealth, but I believe that an equally strong force will be a cultural shift — that is happening now.

Especially with Phelps and Love, I believe that their discussion of #mentalhealth is significant because both of them are considered to be strong and powerful. Asking for help and talking about their feelings shows #men that strength is also synonymous with reflection sensitivity.

When we reframe the crisis that is #men’s #mentalhealth, it becomes more apparent why we need a drastic cultural shift in the way we as #men perceive ourselves. Traditional and usually toxic masculinity isn’t working for anyone, especially #men.

Reach columnist Thelonious Goerz at Wellness@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @TheloniousGoerz

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